THE NEW CIVIL RELIGION
Darrel Ray relates in his book “The God Virus: How it infects our lives and Culture” that the civil religion (What seems to be a cooperative understanding between the various cults of Christianity”) was a bothersome but harmless loose group before World War 2 but that with the rise of competing viruses like Marxism in Russia, was changed into a weapon of the Cold War. The American Civil Religion rose up to confront the “godless communism” of the Soviet Union. The viruses of Marxism and Christianity fed off each other. Darrel Ray asserts that it is no coincidence that “under God”(1954) and the motto on paper money came to have “in God we trust”(1957) came to be.
“Prayer has no place in the public schools, just like facts have no place in organized religion.” –School superintendent on The Simpsons, episode #1
During this time the United States experienced a surge in religion all the while European countries saw a continued decline. Present day levels of fundamentalism and active participation in civil religion can be traced back to the feared communist threat.
With the disappearance of the threat from “godless communism” the focus of the Civil Religion today is on “godless humanism”. The sermons presented by the pastors now are against “secular humanism” rather than the previous ones against communism.
With the liberalization which rose in regards to sexual freedoms, abortion, and birth control, many of the more fundamentalist groups in the U.S. feel threatened. The Moral Majority allowed the many disparate viruses to find common ground which they used to create methods to infect the political system. Jerry Falwell was instrumental in the formation of The Moral Majority as he felt that though one single religious group could infect and dominate the political system, perhaps a coalition could. Those politicians infected by The Moral Majority now work to achieve the ends promoted by the Moral Majority and other similar groups like the Christian Coalition.
As a result,today, regardless of the Constitution, religion is a virtual test for high public office. Those who do not meet the criteria face being labeled anti-religious or worse.
Darrel Ray continues with some of the results of this “New Civil Religion” upon the Nation:
— specific religious individuals on the Supreme Court.
–forcing candidates for national office to display their religious credentials.
–fundamentalist chaplains in the Armed Forces.
–restricting stem cell research.
— opening an embassy in the Vatican.
…among many more.
The new civil religion is also active in opposing Islamic as well as Hindu, Sikh, Pagan, and Wicca expression.
The New American Civil religion was successful in placing George W. Bush in office. Five compromised justices now sit on the Supreme Court.
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” –Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President.